The Panik I didn’t expect (sorry): 2011 first rounder gets the call-up

Before the start of Saturday night’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the San Francisco Giants made some moves to address their struggles at second base, as well as their 1-9 stretch over ten games to perhaps provide a spark to the club. Juan Perez was optioned to Triple-A Fresno (though he might get called back up later today, more on that later), Jake Dunning was designated for assignment, and prospect Joe Panik got the call up from Fresno. Panik was the first-round pick of the Giants in the 2011 Rule IV MLB Draft, and while it’s great that he’s getting the call, I’m sure more people would want more out of a potential helper than someone whose ceiling may be second-division utility infielder. Panik will be the twelfth player from the first round of the 2011 Draft to get playing time. Here are some notes on him from sites that ranked him within their Giants prospect rankings, MLB.com and John Sickels of SB Nation’s Minor League Ball.

“Panik (the #14 prospect in the SFG system) doesn’t have as high a ceiling as [Christian] Arroyo does, but he does have a high floor and should be a valuable utilityman if he doesn’t become a big league regular. He’s a career .290 hitter in the Minors but batted just .257 last year, which is more indicative of his potential in the Majors. Panik employs a contact-oriented line-drive approach that doesn’t yield much power but helps him get on base.

A shortstop in his first two pro seasons, Panik played primarily second base in 2013. While he has sure hands and was a steady defender at short, his average arm and quickness fit better at second. Panik could help San Francisco in 2014 if needed.” —MLB.com

“Seems likely to be a useful utility player to me, but there is still a chance he can be more than that. Still showing the contact hitting approach that sometimes correlates with unexpected offensive growth in late 20s.” —Minorleagueball.com, who ranked him as the Giants #13 prospect

MLB.com rated Panik’s tools as: Hit: 45 | Power: 30 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45  with 50 being MLB average, so you can see the tools were not all rated as someone that will have a really long MLB career, but Giants fans hope Panik makes adjustments that held him down and emerge to being an everyday player that can help the team. This year, Panik put up a .321/.382/.447 in Fresno with five home runs and fourteen doubles in 326 plate appearances. He stole three bases, walked 8.3% of the time, and struck out 10.1%. Good numbers, and we know the Pacific Coast League is hitter-friendly, but it has been good to see the St. John’s product hold his own as he moved up through the Giants system. Panik should expect to get consistent playing time with Brandon Hicks struggling and Ehire Adrianza failing to provide consistent production on both sides of the ball, even though he’s done better in June.

To close, getting back to Perez, he could be brought back to the club if Angel Pagan is put on the 15-day DL today, as the Giants may not want to have three outfielders on their roster since Michael Morse will be out today with a sore back. The Giants will have the rubber match with the Diamondbacks starting at 1:10PM PST and will be competing with the USA-Portgual World Cup match that beings at 3:00PM PST.

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